Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) When we think about protest music, we tend to think about music sung at political rallies or music created for a cause—the labor movement for example, or anti-war songs. But sometimes protest music is subtle. Sometimes performance itself—the getting up on stage in front of people, the very act of … Continue reading Poetic Protest: Women, Hip-hop, and Islam
By: Felicia M. Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // When labor agitators met for marches and rallies in the early twentieth century, they sang from songbooks. Their songbooks were inexpensively printed, pocket-sized, and usually included only the lyrics because the tunes were well-known. (A song set to a familiar tune is known as a contrafact.) They … Continue reading “Solidarity, Forever”: Zilphia Horton’s Labor Songs, Communism, and the CIO
In 2011, singer Joan Baez performed the song “Joe Hill” for a Veteran’s Day rally sponsored by Occupy Wall Street, a movement that began in New York City that same year in response to widespread financial corruption at banks and corporations. Baez has long been known for her work as an activist; although she might be new to younger generations, her voice is still respected at protests.
By: Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // The following essay discusses violence and brutality. Music videos contain news footage of violent acts, accompanied by strong, explicit language. In 2012, the New York Times offered a retrospective about Woody Guthrie’s life to honor his centenary, noting his legendary ability to sing truth to power, to embody protest … Continue reading “I Can’t Breathe”: Protest Music Now
By: Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // In 1965, documentary filmmaker Stefan Sharff captured the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sharff’s style is sonically sparse: in the entire 17-minute film, we hear only the chopping of helicopter blades; the voice of Dr. King, taken from a recording of … Continue reading Selma’s Music: The Politics of Commemorating Bloody Sunday
By: Kendra Leonard (Loveland, OH) // Many artists draw on personal experience when they create art, and music is no different. Like Tennessee Williams’s plays, Hemingway’s stories, or Van Gogh’s self-portraits, composers and songwriters often include elements of autobiography in their works. Female composers have had to make their way in what was traditionally a … Continue reading Song of Myself: Autobiography in Pop Music